Overview of Coconut Oil and its Benefits
Coconut oil is one of the few foods in the world that has been classified as a ‘superfood’ due to the unique benefits it provides for your health. Some of the benefits include fat loss, improved brain function, and many other impressive health benefits. Coconut oil is also known to have benefits for atopic dermatitis and dry skin.
Coconut oil is also known for its antibacterial properties, which makes it valuable in preventing cavities if used in oil pulling.(1) The oil has also been found to increase the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the body, which is the good type of cholesterol you should have.(2)
Coconut oil, a kind of saturated fat, is derived from the kernel of ripe coconuts and is available all over the world today. The oil contains beneficial fatty acids such as lauric acid and linoleic acid, which is also known as vitamin F.
Due to the many benefits of coconut oil, coconut oil cleanses have become a popular form of detoxification. People all over the world are using them to kick start their weight loss plans and to help rid their bodies of toxins.
Many people also believe that the content of lauric acid in coconut oil makes it beneficial for achieving weight loss. However, to date, there are very few scientific studies that have proven this.
What is a Coconut Oil Cleanse?
A coconut oil cleanse is a type of detoxification program that is geared towards the elimination of excess sugar from the body. This is not the same as going on juice fasts.
As mention above, coconut oil is a form of saturated fat, and it is believed to metabolize in the liver. This makes coconut oil readily accessible as a source of energy.
Many studies(3) have indicated that the high content of lauric acid in coconut oil makes it beneficial for weight loss. This lauric acid content in coconut oil is also what makes this a popular choice for detox cleanses.
Lauric acid is made up of medium-chain fatty acids, which are known for not increasing cholesterol levels significantly. Medium-chain fatty acids also do not get stored in the fat tissues in the body as they are directly transported to the liver.
This is why lauric acids get used up immediately for generating quick energy or get converted into ketones that the body is able to use as an energy source whenever it needs. However, there is a lot of conflicting research that indicates that lauric acid may tend to behave more like a long-chain fatty acid instead of the medium-chain ones.(4) Due to these contradictory data, the entire premise on which coconut oil cleanse benefits is based comes into question.
Does Coconut Oil Detox Work For Weight Loss?
There is actually no evidence that shows that coconut oil detox or coconut oil cleanses have any health benefits. However, proponents of this form of detox have claimed that they experience many benefits.
These purported benefits of coconut oil detox include:
Weight Loss and Coconut Oil Detox
It is but natural that if you only consume 10 tablespoons of coconut oil and lots of water for 3 to 4 days, then you are definitely going to end up losing weight. However, the fact remains that this weight loss will primarily be made up of water weight.
In spite of this, though, many people feel motivated by this quick loss of weight. However, if you want to achieve the same results as what you achieved during the coconut oil cleanse, then you will need to come up with a healthy eating plan that is focused on weight loss.
In the long term, sustaining only on tablespoons of coconut oil and water will prove to be dangerous for your health.
Coconut Oil Detox and Candida Infections
Candida is a common fungus that can be found on the skin and in some parts of the body, such as the digestive tract and the mouth. When there is an uncontrolled growth of candida in the body, it can lead to an infection known as candidiasis.
Consuming excess amounts of refined carbohydrates, sugar, or alcohol makes you even more susceptible to candidiasis.
Proponents of the coconut oil detox claim that this cleanse help get rid of toxins from the body, thus reducing the overgrowth of Candida. There are certain animal studies that indicate that coconut oil may help in candida overgrowth.(5) But, again, there is limited evidence to show the same in humans.
If you have candidiasis, then keep in mind that a diet structured to minimize the growth of Candida is likely to help more than a coconut oil cleanse. It is also a good idea to consult a doctor in cases such as these instead of opting to self-treat.
Infections and Coconut Oil Detox
Proponents of a coconut oil detox also claim that coconut oil detox helps clean the gut of many other types of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It is believed that some components of coconut oil, such as lauric acid and caprylic acid, may help in this. However, again, there is no research to back up these claims.
While there are studies that indicate that the topical application of coconut oil can help in the treatment of dermal infections, there is no evidence to indicate the same for ingestion of coconut oil and treatment of infections.(6)
Side Effects of a Coconut Oil Detox
Ingesting only large amounts of coconut oil can cause the following side effects:
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
- Abdominal cramps
Coconut oil is also known to increase the body’s cholesterol levels, thus increasing your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
If you already have high cholesterol, then you should definitely talk to your doctor before considering a coconut oil cleanse. If you still decide to go ahead with the cleanse, then do not stop taking the prescribed cholesterol medications.
How To Do A Coconut Oil Cleanse?
Remember that before trying out the coconut oil cleanse, it is essential to discuss the same with your doctor. After all, there is no medically approved procedure for carrying out a coconut oil cleanse, but your doctor will be able to guide you on whether it is a good option for you and whether it can prove to be harmful to your health or not.
Followers of the coconut oil cleanse believe that the fat you get from the coconut oil is sufficient to sustain you and provide you with energy for the time period of the detox. Generally, cleanses tend to last for at least 3 to 4 days.
Every day you will be consuming at least 10 to 14 tablespoons of unrefined, organic extra virgin coconut oil. It is important to buy the organic variety of coconut oil as many coconut oils are processed with dangerous chemicals and should not be ingested. This is why you should read the product labels carefully and only buy unrefined and organic extra virgin coconut oil.(7)
This high amount of coconut oil you ingest daily may result in stomach distress or diarrhea. In order to avoid these side effects, you should start gradually so that your body is able to adjust to the intake of coconut oil. Begin by adding small amounts of coconut oil to your daily diet for at least a week or two before you begin the cleanse.
You need to also space out the coconut oil intake during the day. You can mix it with water or even with a small amount of no-sugar and high-fat yogurt. You can also drink sugarless, warm lemon water combined with the coconut oil.
Many people also eat several ounces of raw coconut meat during their cleanse.
If you decide to go ahead with a cleanse, then it is essential to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water every day and also avoid doing any strenuous activity that will require more energy.
If you start to feel dizzy, faint, or lightheaded, you should immediately stop the cleanse and eat some solid food, preferably a protein.
There are many better and proven ways to lose weight in a safe and effective manner. The best way of losing weight and keeping it off is by following a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
For example, if you want to lose one pound every week, you should come up with a caloric deficit of at least 3,500 calories. This means that you will need to burn up that many more calories than what you are eating and drinking during the entire week.
Healthy eating and exercising is the safest way of losing weight and keeping the weight off in the long term as well.
In recent years, coconut oil cleanses have become very popular, but the fact to remember is that there is no scientific evidence that shows that these detox regimes improve your health or helps you lose weight in any way.
In fact, there are many side effects that you will need to deal with if you start taking such large amounts of coconut oil every day. Diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and other gastrointestinal discomfort are some of the most common side effects of a coconut oil cleanse. Furthermore, coconut oil is also known to increase the levels of bad cholesterol in the body, which can be dangerous for people who already suffer from high cholesterol levels. This also increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
So if you want to consider doing a coconut oil cleanse, you should first discuss the pros and cons of this detox plan with your doctor.
- Kaliamoorthy, S., Pazhani, A., Nagarajan, M., Meyyappan, A., Rayar, S. and Mathivanan, S., 2018. Comparing the effect of coconut oil pulling practice with oil pulling using sesame oil in plaque-induced gingivitis: A prospective comparative interventional study. Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine, 9(2), p.165.
- Chinwong, S., Chinwong, D. and Mangklabruks, A., 2017. Daily consumption of virgin coconut oil increases high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in healthy volunteers: a randomized crossover trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2017.
- McCarty, M.F. and DiNicolantonio, J.J., 2016. Lauric acid-rich medium-chain triglycerides can substitute for other oils in cooking applications and may have limited pathogenicity. Open heart, 3(2), p.e000467.
- Wallace, T.C., 2019. Health Effects of Coconut Oil—A Narrative Review of Current Evidence. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 38(2), pp.97-107.
- ScienceDaily. (2019). Coconut oil can control overgrowth of a fungal pathogen in GI tract, study in mice suggests. [online] Available at: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151118125325.htm [Accessed 26 Dec. 2019].
- Natural Medicine Journal. (2019). Treatment of Dermal Infections With Topical Coconut Oil. [online] Available at: https://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2014-05/treatment-dermal-infections-topical-coconut-oil [Accessed 26 Dec. 2019].
- Fife, B., 2006. Virgin Coconut Oil: Nature’s Miracle Medicine. Piccadilly Books, Ltd..
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